WBEZ | pharmaceuticals http://www.wbez.org/tags/pharmaceuticals Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en EcoMyths: The big reasons not to flush old medicines down the toliet http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-big-reasons-not-flush-old-medicines-down-toliet-105716 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F80812811&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP120218166375_3.jpg" style="float: left; width: 243px; height: 346px;" title="Area residents dispose of unneeded medications at the drug take back event on Feb. 18, 2012, at Walgreens and other participating locations in Palm Springs, CA. The event was sponsored by the C.A.R.E.S. Alliance, with support from the Palm Springs Police Department. (Rodrigo Pena/AP Images for The C.A.R.E.S. Alliance and Palm Springs Police Department)" />Over the years, you may have heard that the recommended way to dispose of unused pharmaceuticals is to flush them down the toilet or pour them down the drain - not anymore.&nbsp; The EPA and FDA backed off this recommendation for almost all drugs (exceptions are listed on the <a href="http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/EnsuringSafeUseofMedicine/SafeDisposalofMedicines/ucm186187.htm#Flushing_list">FDA website</a>).&nbsp; Medicines are among the thousands of &ldquo;chemicals of emerging concern&rdquo; the EPA and much of the scientific community now monitor and study.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Today for our <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths"><em>EcoMyths</em></a> segment, Jerome McDonnell and I discuss the pros and cons of flushing medicines with two experts: &nbsp;<a href="http://www.greatlakes.org/Document.Doc?id=1154">Olga Lyandres, PhD</a> of the <a href="http://www.greatlakes.org/Document.Doc?id=1154">Alliance for the Great Lakes</a>, author of the paper &ldquo;<a href="http://www.greatlakes.org/document.doc?id=1263">Keeping Great Lakes Water Safe: Priorities for Protecting against Emerging Chemical Pollutants</a>&rdquo;; and <a href="http://apps.mwrd.org/commissioners/shore.pdf">Commissioner Debra Shore</a> of the <a href="http://www.mwrd.org">Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago</a> (MWRD).&nbsp; Both had a lot to say about the dangers of and the solutions for the contamination of our drinking water by dissolved pharmaceuticals and other household products.<strong> See how we &quot;flush&quot; <a href="http://ecomythsalliance.org/2013/02/flushing-meds/">this myth</a> at the EcoMyths Alliance website!</strong></div><p><u>Why Dispose of Unused Drugs?</u></p><p>The &ldquo;chemical soup&rdquo; that Lyandres mentions is of concern because of the strange mix of chemicals that we dispose of in our waste stream.&nbsp; These chemicals show up in trace amounts in our drinking water, creating a potentially harmful cocktail of chemicals.</p><p>Source: <a href="http://www.jonbarron.org/article/aqua-horribilis">http://www.jonbarron.org/article/aqua-horribilis</a></p><p>Common chemicals in the waste stream include Prozac, Viagra, and caffeine. &nbsp;As she explained, no one understands the chemistry that occurs when these and other compounds are mixed together. Nor is much is known about the potential impacts on human health. But studies show adverse ecological impacts of <a href="http://epa.gov/endo/pubs/edspoverview/whatare.htm">endocrine disruptors</a> in our waterways, including &ldquo;intersex fish&rdquo; &ndash; that is, the male fish in the Potomac River Watershed <a href="http://www.fws.gov/contaminants/DisplayNews.cfm?NewsID=E2FDE07T-74%20D0-11D4-288DC74E7914EA01">bearing eggs</a>!</p><p><strong><u>Two really important reasons to properly dispose of unused medicines</u></strong></p><ul><li>To prevent accidental, and possibly fatal, use of the drug by people for whom the medicine was not prescribed.&nbsp;</li><li>To prevent environmental contamination in of our waterways and soils.</li></ul><p><u>What Can a Person Do To Help?</u></p><p>First, it is important to note that using expired medications is potentially harmful to your health.&nbsp; Once a medicine expires, not only can it lose its potency, but also its chemical composition may have changed.&nbsp;</p><p>Over the past two years, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has increased focus on this issue by instituting nationwide pharmaceutical &ldquo;Take Back Days&rdquo;.&nbsp; By making it easier for people to dispose of their medicines safely, the DEA has collected millions of pounds of drugs as a result of this program. The next <a href="http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html">National Drug Take Back Day</a> is April 27, 2013 and will be administered by state law enforcement.&nbsp;</p><p>Commissioner Shore points out that sewage treatment plants do not have the capabilities to clean out the thousands of chemicals that get into the waste stream from home plumbing, storm water, and other sources.&nbsp; So we have to do our part to keep chemicals out of the water system in the first place.</p><p>Both Shore and Lyandres advise people to keep an eye on the expiration dates of their prescribed and over-the-counter medications.&nbsp; When the drugs are expired or unused, there are several safe ways to dispose of medicines to keep them out of getting into your drinking water.&nbsp; Below are our experts&rsquo; recommendations on safe disposal.</p><p><u>Disposing of Medicines Safely</u></p><ul><li><u>Local Municipal and Other Agency Collection Sites</u>: Commissioner Shore recommends finding a drug collection location near your home.&nbsp; The Illinois <a href="http://www.epa.state.il.us/medication-disposal/locations/index.html">EPA lists medication disposal locations in by county</a> on its website. The MWRD also participates in the DEA Take Back days at several of its water treatment plants in Cook County.</li></ul><ul><li><u>Special Envelopes Sold at Local Stores</u>:&nbsp; Major pharmacies, such as <a href="http://info.cvscaremark.com/newsroom/press-releases/cvs-caremark-helps-launch-partnership-drugfreeorgs-national-campaign-curb-te">CVS</a> and <a href="http://www.walgreens.com/topic/sr/sr_community_safe_medication_disposal.jsp">Walgreens</a>, sell specially designed envelopes for mailing used medicines to safe disposal facilities.</li></ul><ul><li><u>Trash it as a Last Resort</u>:&nbsp; If there are no local medicine disposal alternatives, the FDA recommends throwing away old medicine in a plastic bag after mixing it with kitty litter or coffee grounds.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; This is not the best option, since the bag goes into a landfill. There is a chance that eventually the package could leak and the drugs leech into groundwater. However, disposing expired medications in the trash is still better than flushing them down the toilet.</li></ul></p> Mon, 25 Feb 2013 09:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-big-reasons-not-flush-old-medicines-down-toliet-105716 Banishing Wrinkles With Botox May Make You Miss Others' Emotions http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-25/banishing-wrinkles-botox-may-make-you-miss-others-emotions-85657 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-25/eyes_custom.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A few well-placed <a href="http://www.botoxcosmetic.com/home.aspx">Botox</a> injections can erase your hard-won character lines. But that may also make you less likely to pick up on <em>other </em>people's emotions.</p><p>That's because the botulinum toxin, which reduces wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing small muscles in the face, can make it hard to furrow the brow or make other expressions that convey emotion. And our own facial expressions, researchers now <a href="http://spp.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/04/21/1948550611406138.abstract" target="_self">show</a>, may be essential to recognizing the feelings of others.</p><p>This unexpected Botox effect is a fascinating window on how we understand what other people are feeling. A good part of that process requires unconscious mimicry of the other person's facial expression.</p><p></p><p>Think about it. Don't you often smile when someone smiles at you? Put on a worried or dismayed face when a friend looks troubled? Tear up when someone else cries?</p><p>"The tendency to mimic facial expressions is rapid, automatic and highly emotion-specific," write <a href="http://psychology.usc.edu/people/faculty_display.cfm?person_id=1027134">David Neal</a> and <a href="http://psychandneuro.duke.edu/people?subpage=profile&Gurl=%2Faas%2Fpn&Uil=tanya.chartrand">Tanya Chartrand</a> in an intriguing paper just published online by <em>Social Psychological and Personality Science.</em></p><p><em> </em></p><p>Neal and Chartrand say the subtle contraction of our facial muscles when we mirror a friend's happiness or woe generates a feedback signal to our brains. Those incoming signals from facial nerves help the brain interpret how the other person is feeling.</p><p>It's all part of neuroscientists' recent focus on so-called "<a href="http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/ramachandran06/ramachandran06_index.html">mirror neurons</a>" – the brain cells that give us the power to empathize (to "feel with") someone else.</p><p>It's not easy to prove the existence of what psychologists call "<a href="http://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/getArticle.cfm?id=2606">embodied cognition</a>" – the idea that the body influences the mind as well as the other way around.</p><p>Botox gave the researchers the opportunity to dampen the neural feedback from study subjects' facial muscles without introducing any drugs to the brain (Botox injected into the face does not get into the brain), or asking them to make a conscious effort to remain expressionless.</p><p>In one experiment, the researchers recruited 31 women who were already having either Botox treatments or injections of a <a href="http://www.dermanetwork.org/information/dermalfillers.asp">dermal filler</a>, which plumps up wrinkles but doesn't paralyze muscles. After the treatment, the women were shown a series of images that showed people's eyes embodying different emotional states. Study subjects were asked to judge, as quickly as possible, what emotion the eyes conveyed.</p><p>The Botox patients scored significantly worse than those who got a dermal filler. That meant the Botox patients' ability to make fast judgments about another person's emotions was blunted. (The Botox didn't eliminate their ability to judge emotion. They still were about 70 percent accurate.)</p><p>Neal and Chartrand then tested the opposite of the Botox effect. That is, they looked at how people judged emotive expressions when the feedback from their own facial muscles was amplified, rather than damped-down.</p><p>To do this, they painted one of those face-mask gels on subjects' temples and foreheads. When the gel dried and tightened, it provided resistance to subjects' facial muscles whenever they smiled, frowned or furrowed their brows. That amplified the neural feedback from muscles to brain.</p><p>Sure enough, people wearing the gel masks did better in judging other people's expressions than controls, who had the gel painted on their forearms. But when the researchers played audio clips of people expressing different emotions in their voices, there was no difference. That meant the improved performance was due to muscle mimicry, not just any emotive input.</p><p>The cognitive implications go well beyond Botox users. But the findings do make Neal and Chartrand wonder if prolonged use of Botox would hobble people's ability to perceive others' emotions and give others empathetic facial feedback.</p><p>"Mimicry promotes liking and emotional sharing," the researchers say, "and may contribute to long-term relationship satisfaction."</p><p>Having a Botox mask may undermine those bonds. </p> Mon, 25 Apr 2011 15:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-25/banishing-wrinkles-botox-may-make-you-miss-others-emotions-85657 In Funding Hunt, FDA Looks To Fees From Generic Drugmakers http://www.wbez.org/story/business/2011-02-18/funding-hunt-fda-looks-fees-generic-drugmakers-82536 <p><p>The Food and Drug Administration is looking for money anywhere it can these days. And it's increasingly asking the drug, device and food industries it regulates to kick in some cash in the form of user fees to make up for budget shortfalls.</p><p>Right now, the FDA's got its sights on the companies that make generic copies of brand-name drugs. Generics <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=11838">saved Medicare consumers</a> about $8 billion in 2007 and the government billions more, says the Congressional Budget Office.</p><p>"We are at something of a tipping point," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told generic drug industry leaders at the <a href="http://www.gphaonline.org/">Generic Pharmaceutical Association</a> conference today in Orlando, Fla.</p><p></p><p>That's because several high profile brand-name drugs are set to come off patent in the next few years, clearing the way for generic competition. That includes Pfizer's blockbuster <a href="http://www.lipitor.com/aboutLipitor/benefitsOfLipitor.aspx?source=google&HBX_PK=s_lipitor&HBX_OU=50&o=23127370nullnullnull">Lipitor</a>, which it seems just about every man over 40 in this country is taking to lower his cholesterol.</p><p>And, the industry is facing a backlog of <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/november/viewpoint/overview/index.htm">thousands</a> generic drug applications, with more streaming in every month.</p><p>The FDA fears it won't be able to approve generic drug applications as quickly as when the patents expire, not to mention conduct inspections and develop streamlined standards, given its <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2011/02/14/133748987/whats-in-the-2012-budget-plan-npr-breaks-it-down#health">current budget limitations</a>.</p><p>That fear seems to be striking a chord with generic drug company execs, who for the first time in years, say they're open to user fees.</p><p>"We must be able to move when those drugs come off patent," Mylan President Heather Bresch <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704409004576146663904196914.html?mod=googlenews_wsj">tells</a> the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>.</p><p>Generic drugs now make up nearly <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/06/07/127531274/generics">three-quarters of U.S. prescriptions</a>, and the number is expected to grow as insurance companies push them to keep medical costs down.</p><p>And generic drugmakers are the last major medical product industry that doesn't have an FDA user fee model, Hamburg pointed out at the meeting.</p><p>"The bottom line is that a user fee program will provide additional resources to help FDA fulfill our common mission to ensure safety and quality and inspire the trust and confidence of the public," Hamburg said.</p><p>Just how a generic drug user fee will take shape is the next big question. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1298056333?&gn=In+Funding+Hunt%2C+FDA+Looks+To+Fees+From+Generic+Drugmakers&ev=event2&ch=103537970&h1=Policy-ish,Pharmaceuticals,Shots+-+Health+Blog,Health,Governing,Health+Care,Politics,Business,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=133866932&c7=1128&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1128&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110218&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=133188445,126567381,103537970&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Fri, 18 Feb 2011 12:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/business/2011-02-18/funding-hunt-fda-looks-fees-generic-drugmakers-82536 How olive oil and Ibuprofen can make you want to cough http://www.wbez.org/story/brain-candy/how-olive-oil-and-ibuprofen-can-make-you-want-cough <p><p>Ever wonder about that peppery and irresistible urge to cough you feel at the back of your throat when you slurp some extra virgin olive oil?</p><p>If you're EVOO junkies like us (and who isn't?) the answer is probably yes.</p><p></p><p>So, we have another question. Ever try to swallow an ibuprofen tablet when you didn't have a glass of water around –- and ended up with a burning pain at the back of your throat that took hours to go away? We've had that happen too.</p><p>Well, it turns out in a weird coincidence that both sensations are caused by the same thing --- something called the <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK5237/">TRPA1 receptor</a>.</p><p>TRPA1 is a protein on the surface of cells at the back of your throat. It's probably there as a defense against noxious chemicals in the air. But it's also uniquely sensitive to EVOO and ibuprofen (and similar non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).</p><p>That's interesting to scientists, because the common link is one of the most important phenomena in medicine – inflammation, and chemicals that dampen it.</p><p>Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center and coworkers have discovered that those back-of-the-throat receptors recognize a anti-inflammatory agent in EVOO called oleocanthal. The chemical is a potent inhibitor of an inflammatory enzyme called COX (cyclooxygenase). And that's just how ibuprofen works to reduce inflammation.</p><p>The overlap between EVOO and ibuprofen is the subject of an article in the January 19 issue of the <a href="http://www.jneurosci.org/"><em>Journal of Neuroscience</em></a>.</p><p>Back to that EVOO cough. Connoisseurs of olive oil know that the cough response is a marker for how pungent the oil is – a sign of purity. They even <a href="http://consumers.californiaoliveranch.com/health/olive-oil-primer-a-look-at-the-koroneiki-olive/">rate</a> EVOOs as one-cough, two-cough, even three-cough.</p><p>This pungency is valued in other foods and seasonings – think <a href="http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/40230.php">wasabi</a>, the tear-inducing green mustard served with sushi. Or that indispensable ingredient called garlic. (A related receptor is responsible for the perception of the chemical <a href="http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/capsaicin.php">capsaicin</a>, which makes chilis hot.)</p><p>But the same receptor activated by a good EVOO is also responsible for the get-me-outta-here feeling when humans <a href="http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/40230.php">inhale tear gas</a>, tailpipe exhaust and the acrid smoke that asphyxiates firefighters. The insect repellent in citronella also works <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/08/26/129445731/a-look-at-why-insect-repellents-work">by tripping TRPA1</a>.</p><p>The Monell scientists point out that the reason TRPA1 makes you cough is that it's positioned at "the last possible checkpoint" before noxious air enters the deep airways to the lungs. The cough is the body's way of expelling the bad air before it does real damage.</p><p>So isn't it ironic that humans have transformed a primal defense against noxious fumes into an indicator of gourmet quality? The authors of the paper wonder if it might have something to do with the health benefits of anti-inflammatory chemicals.</p><p>"We suggest," they write, "that by a process not yet well understood, people have come, perhaps unconsciously, to transform an inherently unpleasant sensation into a positive one because it has beneficial health effects" – namely, anti-inflammatory effects.</p><p>More than just curious, the observation might contain some medically valuable clues. Maybe, scientists think, the TRPA1 receptor can tell them something about treatment of chronic pain and <a href="http://www.ionchannels.org/showabstract.php?pmid=18456404">asthma</a>. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1295459872?&gn=How+Olive+Oil+And+Ibuprofen+Can+Make+You+Want+To+Cough&ev=event2&ch=103537970&h1=Fitness+%26+Nutrition,Research,Pharmaceuticals,Shots+-+Health+News+Blog,Brain+Candy,Health,Your+Health,Science,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=133050281&c7=1128&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1128&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110119&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=126567887,126567633,126567381,103537970&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Wed, 19 Jan 2011 11:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/brain-candy/how-olive-oil-and-ibuprofen-can-make-you-want-cough Chicago researchers find shaky evidence behind widespread use of psychiatric drugs http://www.wbez.org/story/mental-health/chicago-researchers-find-shaky-evidence-behind-widespread-use-psychiatric-drugs <p><p>New anti-psychotic medicines such as Seraquel, Risperdal and Zyprexa are some of the biggest sellers in the drug industry. But Chicago researchers say most of the time, those drugs are prescribed for uses not approved by regulators, and not supported by science.</p><p>This new generation of antipsychotics, called atypicals, were thought to be a big improvement over older drugs. But research is increasingly showing that those expectations haven&rsquo;t panned out.</p><p>&ldquo;There was promise that atypical agents were substantially safer and possibly more effective,&rdquo; said Caleb Alexander, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. &ldquo;And time and time again, we&rsquo;ve seen we&rsquo;re wrong in that case.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, the drugs are widely prescribed for so-called off-label use, like dementia and anxiety, for which there&rsquo;s scant evidence they&rsquo;re effective. Alexander found unsupported use of the drugs has more than doubled since the mid-1990s. In 2008, some 54 percent of treatment visits involving atypicals were for off-label use for which the supporting science is sketchy at best. That adds up to about $6 billion in annual costs to patients, insurers and the government.</p><p><a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pds.2005/abstract">Alexander&rsquo;s paper is out in the Journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. </a><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 07 Jan 2011 21:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/mental-health/chicago-researchers-find-shaky-evidence-behind-widespread-use-psychiatric-drugs